In Beastly Possessions, Sarah Amato chronicles the unusual ways in which Victorians of every social class brought animals into their daily lives. Captured, bred, exhibited, collected, and sold, ordinary pets and exotic creatures – as well as their representations – became commodities within Victorian Britain's flourishing consumer culture. As a pet, an animal could be a companion, a living parlour decoration, and proof of a household's social and moral status. In the zoo, it could become a public pet, an object of curiosity, a symbol of empire, or even a consumer mascot. Either kind of animal might be painted, photographed, or stuffed as a taxidermic specimen. Using evidence ranging from pet-keeping manuals and scientific treatises to novels, guidebooks, and ephemera, this fascinating, well-illustrated study opens a window into an underexplored aspect of life in Victorian Britain.
1. The Social Lives of Pets
2. Sexy Beasts, Fallen Felines, and Pampered Pomeranians
3. In the Zoo: Civilizing Animals and Displaying People
4. The White Elephant in London: On Trickery, Racism, and Advertising
5. Dead Things: The Afterlives of Animals
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Sarah Amato is a lecturer in material culture and modern British history at the University of Toronto.